Someone I know has been a victim of sexual misconduct.
Encourage the victim to immediately seek medical assistance. Encourage the person to not take a shower as it’s important for medical personnel to do a thorough examination. The individual should not shower or brush his/her teeth before seeking medical attention. Ask the person to carry clean clothes to the medical examination as the hospital may want to keep the original clothing for testing or evidence.
Provide contact information for counseling and medical services. Find on-campus and off-campus resources.
Make sure the victim feels safe. Contact Office of Residence Life professional staff at (540) 665-4611 or the Department of Public Safety at (540) 678-4444 to arrange emergency housing if necessary.
Give the victim the power to make his/her decisions. The victim of sexual misconduct had his/her power taken away. Rather than make decisions for the individual, provide options and encouragement, but let the person make his/her own choices.
Provide comfort and a listening ear. Allow the victim to say as much or as little as he/she would like to share. Try not to ask too many questions.
Avoid victim blaming. Do not ask why he/she didn’t say no, fight back, wear different clothing, etc. This is considered “victim blaming,” making the victim feel like he/she caused the sexual misconduct.
Before giving any physical reassurance, ask permission. Physical reassurance includes a hug, a gentle touch on a leg or shoulder, etc. When someone has been the victim of sexual misconduct, it’s important for you to consider physical boundaries and the comfort level of the victim with being touched.
Do not threaten harm to the accused individual. Threatening to harm the person who allegedly committed the sexual misconduct can make the victim feel afraid and can prevent victims from speaking up about the incident.